The race to produce more lithium in the United States has begun. As the global production of electric vehicles (EVs) rises, so does the demand for the mineral, and US miners are looking to capitalize. There is currently only one operational lithium mine in the US, the Silver Peak in southwestern Nevada, owned by Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB). With numerous new projects in the works across the country, this could soon change. The Biden administration awarded $2.8 billion in grants in October to build and expand domestic manufacturing of EV batteries in 12 states, implying that demand could skyrocket. In 2020, global demand for lithium was approximately 317,517 metric tonnes, but industry estimates predict that demand will be up to six times higher by 2030. Canada is also a contender in the race for more lithium according to Canaccord, which sees the region becoming a key producer. E3 Lithium (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF), one of the companies unlocking a new source of Canadian lithium, just received a $27 million investment from the Government of Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). E3 joins companies like Stellantis (NYSE:STLA), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Rio TInto (NYSE:RIO) and Honda Canada (NYSE:HMC) Canada in receiving this funding.
On November 28, E3 Lithium (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF), Alberta’s leading lithium developer and extraction technology innovator, announced a $27 million investment from the Government of Canada’s Innovation, Science, and Economic Development’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
The SIF aims to encourage innovation for a better Canada by funding large projects and national innovation ecosystems. With this announcement, E3 Lithium became the first lithium company in Alberta to receive this funding, joining Rio Tinto, Stellantis, and General Motors as recipients.
The investment will help E3 with all resource and technology development aspects, including drilling, piloting E3‘s proprietary ion-exchange technology for lithium extraction, process development and engineering, and downstream lithium hydroxide conversion. Additionally, the investment funds additional development testing during the feasibility phase and the engineering and design of a definitive feasibility study.
“The breadth of the development costs this funding covers contributes significantly to the de-risking of our end-to-end project development as we progress towards a commercial facility producing battery grade lithium in Alberta,” said Chris Doornbos, E3 Lithium President and CEO. “The Canadian Government has committed to supporting the critical minerals supply chain; growing local Canadian supply begins with the raw materials and Alberta has a significant part to play in that future.”
All eligible program costs are reimbursed to E3 at 33.94% up to $27 million. E3 can apply for all eligible expenses as of the initial application date in August 2021, including those related to E3‘s 2022 drilling program. E3 anticipates that its first SIF reimbursement will exceed $4 million.
Since 2017, E3 has secured approximately $35M CAD to fund its development over the last five years, exclusive of the SIF investment. The SIF investment provides funding stability without share dilution as E3 works towards first lithium production in Alberta.
On November 10, E3 Lithium announced the results of its first well, which showed lithium concentrations in a previously untested area of the Leduc Aquifer. The P501 lithium concentration from E3 Lithium‘s first well is 76.5 mg/L based on brine samples collected from five zones.
The lithium concentrations in E3‘s first well are right in line with the rest of the aquifer, with historical sampling results varying from 74 mg/L to 78 mg/L. Most importantly, the results demonstrate that lithium concentrations are constant and continuous throughout the Leduc Aquifer, which is crucial for commercial operations.
Other Companies Receive Government of Canada Funding
The Government of Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) supports a wide range of large-scale, transformative and collaborative projects across all sectors of the economy. To date, SIF has made $6.5 billion in contributions for 107 projects.
American multinational car company General Motors (NYSE:GM) just announced that it expects its rapidly growing electric vehicles (EV) portfolio to be “solidly profitable” by 2025 in North America as it scales EV capacity in the region to more than 1 million units annually, ramps up its software revenue opportunities, generates significant greenhouse gas benefits and realizes the positive impacts of new clean energy tax credits. In the next three years, GM plans to move very aggressively toward EV leadership as adoption is expected to reach 20% of US industry sales in 2025.
On November 17, Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) entered into an agreement to acquire aiMotive, a leading developer of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous driving software. The acquisition enhances Stellantis’ AI and autonomous driving core technology, expands its global talent, and boosts the mid-term development of the company’s all-new STLA AutoDrive platform.
The world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation Rio TInto (NYSE:RIO) recently announced the proven effectiveness of its low-carbon iron-making solution, known as BioIron. BioIron, which uses raw biomass instead of metallurgical coal as a reductant and microwave energy to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron, has the potential to support near-zero CO2 steel-making, and can result in net negative emissions if linked with carbon capture and storage. The process has been tested extensively in Germany over the last 18 months by Rio’s project team, sustainable technology company Metso Outotec, and the University of Nottingham’s Microwave Process Engineering Group.
On November 10, Honda Canada, a division of Honda Motors (NYSE:HMC), announced the all-new 2023 Honda Accord. The 2023 Honda Accord is a midsize sedan with an elegant and sophisticated design, and an advanced and powerful hybrid-electric system. According to the press release, Accord hybrid models will eventually represent about 50% of Accord sales as a key step in the Honda electrification strategy. It also marks Honda‘s first integration of Google built-in which offers seamless on-the-go connectivity.
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